The largest pile of crushed rubble is approximately 20 feet high with a base of approximately 70 feet by 50 feet. Councillors at a TBA Working Party meeting in April were shocked to hear that the developers and environmental surveyors of the asbestos factory site say they did not know anything about piles of crushed asbestos factory rubble.
Paradoxically, a photograph of the rubble is on the home page of the developers’ website.
Countryside Properties director Ian Simpson and Nick Bone, Managing Director of the environmental consultancy company Encia, were questioned repeatedly about the way the crushed rubble is being disturbed by JCB digger and loaded into open wagons. It has been seen being driven off-site and driven through the streets of Rochdale to unknown destinations. Photographs taken of the rubble being disturbed show workers not wearing masks as fine dust is created.
Jason Addy of campaigning group Save Spodden Valley questioned the senior managers’ lack of knowledge about the piles of crushed asbestos factory:
“We have spoken to Countryside Properties and MMC Estates about this rubble at a face-to-face meeting. We wrote to Mr Simpson of Countryside Properties in February 2005 asking for permission to have this rubble tested for asbestos content- this request was refused”.
“I cannot understand why Encia say they do not know about the huge pile of crushed asbestos factory- they are the company that submitted an environmental report about the factory site with the planning application. How could they miss something so big?”
“The buildings that have been crushed into rubble employed people that have since died of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. Archived company papers show that dust was present in the air of whole factory complex. Our concern is that the cavities and inner fabric of these buildings may have been riddled with traces of fine asbestos dust and fibre over the decades. Asbestos fibres are miniscule- 2 million can fit on a pinhead. People who have only worked in the office of Turners have died from mesothelioma. We think this rubble should be treated with the utmost care and respect.
Following heated criticism of Countryside Properties and MMC Estates in the Council chamber last week (25th May), Cllr Stott, Chair of the TBA Working Party says he still hasn’t received any satisfactory answers about crushed asbestos factory rubble. The TBA Working Party was formed to investigate health and Safety concerns regarding the 72 acre site.
A copy of the email sent by Cllr Stott to Nigel Moutrey of MMC Estates on 27th May reads:
At the meeting of the TBA Working Party held on Thursday 12th May I
specifically asked a question regarding where was the rubble going that was
being removed from the site. You did promise at the meeting that you would
let me know. As yet I have had no response.
This is a matter of serious concern as we are concerned that the 'problem'
is being moved somewhere else.
I look forward to your reply as a matter of urgency. You can either reply by
email or simply by writing to Councillor Tom Stott, c/o Members Secretariat,
Rochdale Town Hall, Rochdale OL16 1AB
Councillor Tom Stott
Rochdale Township TBA Working Party“
Cllr. Tom Stott, himself a former TBA worker, is saddened by the lack of information from the developers:
“All we are asking for are some simple facts- does this rubble contain asbestos or not? Has this fact been established before unprotected workers have disturbed the rubble and driven it through the streets of Rochdale in uncovered wagons? Where is this rubble going to?”
Jason Addy of Save Spodden Valley shares Cllr. Tom Stott’s concerns:
“The last time that asbestos factory rubble was seen being disturbed and leaving the site was on Sunday 15th May. This was 3 days AFTER Countryside Properties and MMC Estates informed the Rochdale Observer of the need to close the entire length of Woodlands Road for up to 19 months as a result of ‘worrying’ news that there had been ‘unauthorised soil removal’ from the site. A BBC TV report on May 14th discovered that the amount of soil in question amounted to about ‘a shovelful’.”
“The closure of the entire length of Woodlands Road makes it more difficult to monitor activity on the site. It is understood that the Health and Safety Executive advised the developers in April not to disturb the piles of crushed rubble- it appears this advice has gone unheeded.”
“We have made Freedom of Information requests to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for paperwork relating to the crushed rubble. At recent Working Party meetings it has been suggested by representatives of Encia, the developers’ environmental consultants, that the tests they conducted on 6 samples of the rubble were ‘negative’. Test results and methodologies for these conclusions were not forthcoming.”
“It is understood that the HSE have conducted its own tests on the rubble that indicate that asbestos is present. These test results confirming ‘traces’ of asbestos are expected in the Freedom of Information Act paperwork. – A spokesperson for the HSE indicated that this was the only way in which this information could be made available.”
Christine Arrowsmith, Chairman of Rochdale Primary Care Trust Patient and Public Involvement in Health Forum, has also written to express the Forum’s concern about the health hazards of crushed asbestos factory rubble.